How climate change will affect the future of UK tourism

Visitors at Croome in Worcestershire

Visiting patterns at the places we care for are shedding light on how climate change might impact UK tourism.

Our research shows that changing weather conditions could create challenges for coastal places and shift 'high peak' visitor seasons from summer to autumn.

We've analysed data from more than 85 million visits to 170 places in our care from 2015-2019, and plotted this alongside weather patterns including temperature, rain and wind speed.

The data, which was collected over five years, shows how heat, rain and storms could affect tourism in the coming years. It builds on the outputs of the National Trust's hazard map (see below), which plots potential climate change threats to specific locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

Key findings

  • The optimum weather for a National Trust day out is 21C with a light wind and a small amount of rain
  • Peak visitor season may shift from high summer to autumn as temperatures rise
  • Hotter days could see fewer visitors at inland places
  • People flock to outdoor locations (particularly coastal locations) on hotter days – but numbers dramatically drop off at 28C for most outdoor sites 
  • The ideal temperature for visiting indoor locations is 20C degrees, but above this the number of people visiting historic houses starts to fall.  
" Much of the debate around tourism and climate change has rightly focussed on international travel and the impact of flights and foreign holidays. But what hasn’t been fully addressed yet is what the domestic tourism industry could be facing unless we take drastic action to reduce emissions. "
- Lizzy Carlyle, Head of Climate and Environment, National Trust

Adapting to change  

The data will inform the work we do to ensure historic houses, coastal places and countryside sites can still be enjoyed by visitors.

We're introducing Mediterranean working hours at some sites in the South East of England to avoid the midday heat and creating more shade over outdoor seating areas with plants that can cope with higher temperatures. In areas prone to flooding, we're planting trees and shrubs and removing silt from lakes where possible. Some historic houses are being adpated using new materials to ensure indoor places remain cool during periods of excessive heat.  

Climate change hazard map showing overheating and humidity 2020-2060

Mapping climate change 

We've developed a hazard map that illustrates the threat climate change poses to the places we care for and highlights ways to tackle it. Working to a worst-case scenario model, the map plots places alongside existing data on climate change-related events, such as flooding and coastal erosion. It’s the first map of its kind and will help us identify the hazard level facing these places and pinpoint locations that may need intervention.